LIANE HANSEN, host:
Many actors are thrilled to be nominated for an Academy Award but few will be chosen to go home with a golden statuette. The safe bet is that every actor in Hollywood has daydreamed about that moment. Jake Halperin, who wrote the book "Fame Junkies," recently found one octogenarian thespian who treasures his Oscar dreams in a Los Angeles retirement home.
Mr. JAKE HALPERIN (Author, "Fame Junkies"): The resident who interested me most during my visit was Hal Riddle, a former character actor who never quite managed to hit the big-time.
Mr. HAL RIDDLE (Former Character Actor): I've never felt like a failure. I know I didn't fail. I shot for Hollywood when I was young and I got here and I stayed here, and I made some money here with commercials and small parts.
Mr. HALPERIN: Hal dedicated most of his life to the pursuit of fame and along the way he never found time for a wife or family. His one true love was a girl from Fulton, Kentucky named Lillian(ph). Unfortunately his feelings were unrequited.
Hal said that for him, at least, fame had always been the mistress in his life. You know, most actors say they need to express themselves, he told me. But fame is really the spur. We're really begging people, accept me, let's face it. It's all about wanting to be loved.
Even in his later years, Hal clammed to the hope that fame was still within his grasp.
Mr. RIDDLE: Because somewhere I had an under girding of faith in me that just said, hey, there's something bigger than all this.
Mr. HALPERIN: In the late 1980s, he took heart when Clara Peller gained fame as the old woman featured in the Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" commercials. But it never happened for Hal.
During one of my chats with Hal, I asked what regrets he had. And he was quick to say that he had no misgivings about his career. There are moments when Hal thinks it could still happen for him. He claims that he's too old now to learn lines or walk around, yet he says that if by some chance he came upon a part for a mute octogenarian in a wheelchair he would take the part.
Mr. RIDDLE: I'd probably love it. I would probably get a good director who knew I was 85 years old. He'd get a phenomenal performance out of me. I don't want to have to learn any of the lines, I don't want to have to mess with all that stuff. But if he got something that gave me something where I could just do anything like with just a mime as it were and express any kind of emotion he wanted, I could do it.
Mr. HALPERIN: Yes, I think I could do it, he concluded. In fact, I think I'd win an Academy Award.
HANSEN: Jake Halperin is the author of the book "Fame Junkies."
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